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Soundcheck Session 5 show optimism for future events

Soundcheck Session 5 brought Flat Tuesday’s what might have been the biggest crowd it has seen all semester, with a host of audience members coming, going, loitering by the entrance and moshing in front of the stage. With all the seats stacked, tables moved, wires set and lights up, the place was nearly unrecognizable as the common study lounge that it is.

This was the latest in a series of Soundcheck Sessions, music events hosted by the Retriever Music Society, Goodest Records and the UMBC radio station, WMBC; all student-led organizations on campus. Being the first session of the semester, as well as the first collaboration involving WMBC, the turnout might not have been a surprise. If nothing else, the promise of highlighting local musicians, including many fellow UMBC students, must have enticed the large crowd

The night itself overflowed with talent. After a lively, jazz-infused DJ opener by RMS president Nathaniel Rosov, the night jumped to a quick and energetic start with rapper Colby* and his impassioned set of original material, keeping the audience alert and focused. The next performer, singer-songwriter gabbo, brought things down to a more personal, even-tempered level, performing self-described “sad indie music.”

The performance proved itself entirely genuine, making provocative and creative use of nothing more than a guitar and a looper pedal. The contrast between the respective sets of Rosov, Colby* and gabbo, was evident, but played to the authenticity of artists who legitimately love what they are doing.

Audience members embraced every genre with open arms. As Yawa Osuwu, also known as rapper/singer XYO, explains about the Soundcheck Sessions, “People are always excited and engaged, and it speaks to how much people care about the music scene. Everybody is passionate about it when they come out, and that helps with community cohesion.”

The latter half of the event kept up with this diversity, as XYO gave such a fiery set that he launched off the stage and into the crowd by the second song, surrounded by a chorus of YAH’s and bouncing bodies. Following XYO, indie musician Lonely God gave a short and much quieter, but wholehearted performance, straddling the line between emotional insecurity, disillusioned apathy and comedic vigor.

The final act of the night, full of the aforementioned comedic vigor, was Danexatort, a rap group self-billed as “K-Pop” but more in line with the tongue-in-cheek hype-rap of Zack Fox and Kenny Beats. With a feature from fellow rapper Rondoee and appearance by Lil’ Novice, topics ranged from houses in the hills and girls popping pills to Christmas sex and vasectomies. By the time the night had ended and sweaty clumps of audience members reluctantly filed out of Flat Tuesday’s, it was clear that the night had been a success. 

The sense of community building at Soundcheck Session 5 was pronounced, every audience member finding something to cheer for. The newest presence of collaborator WMBC corroborated the sense of community growth, and if the turnout was anything to go by, this growth will not slow any time soon.

In the words of the rapper XYO, “Music can build a community, the whole sense of ‘I understand you, you understand me.’ That sense of community is a recurring theme.“